“There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries,” said Pope Francis last week. He decried the persecution but added “The Church grows thanks to the blood of the martyrs. This is the beauty of martyrdom.”
His words are proving true around the world.
China used to be an example of the triumph of atheism — atheists came to power there and in the Soviet Bloc, in the 20th century but China is fast becoming an example of the triumph of Christianity in the 21st.
The government is not taking it lightly.
You may have seen the much-shared video of believers crying and singing hymns as the cross was removed from their church. This is part of a much larger atheist campaign to destroy Christian churches there.
Despite persecution “Christianity is moving very, very quickly in China,” said experts at a Brookings conference gathered to worry over whether that’s a good thing or not. China lands number 2 on this list of top 20 countries experiencing Christian growth — along with several other Asian nations.
A Facebook friend recently posted what Christianity looks like on the ground in China:
“In the 1990s, the churches were almost empty with a few seniors only on Sundays. In the 2000s, you would not have a seat if you didn’t go to church early on Sundays. Now, I usually don’t expect I can find a seat during Mass and there are quite a few people who have to hear Mass outside the gate or in the yard, though the church has added more Masses to the Sunday schedule.”
In India, Christians are demanding a legal response to increasing persecution. At February hearings in the U.S. House, activists estimated that violent attacks on Christians have averaged more than 2 per week over the past several years.
And Christianity is growing in India, too. India already has more Catholics in it than Ireland does. Now, ”A Strong Christian Revival Is Sweeping through Former Hindu Tribal Villages.
Perhaps India is the quickest way for Americans to see the power of population.
In the course of an American week, we speak to Indian people often, from doctors to computer experts to entrepreneurs. They have conquered in our culture through hard work and intelligence. Imagine what a more Christian India will do.
Meriam Ibrahim grabbed headlines after Sudan’s Shariah law condemned her for apostasy to Islam — but she is just one of the many condemned Christians in the Sudan and elsewhere on the African continent.
At the same time Africa is quickly overtaking the West and becoming the “Next Christendom” Philip Jenkins wrote about. Christianity in Africa is one of the reason the “atheist” revolution in the West will probably be short-lived.
“We atheists sometimes congratulate ourselves that the incidence of religious belief is going down,” British geneticist Steve Jones. “But religious people have more children.”
In addition to population growth, Christianity is growing exponentially in Africa. One 2011 study saw the Christian population undergoing a 60-fold increase in the past 100 years due mostly to missionary activity.
The list of Christianity’s top 20 growth areas cited the Center for the Study of Global Christianity and included a number of surprises.
As the authors point out, 11 of the 20 are majority Muslim countries. Six of the top 10 Christian growth nations were in the Arabian Peninsula. United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait all make the list of growing Christian populations.
They should stop. Crucifying Christians tends to have the opposite of its intended effect.